Brooklyn Pastoral: the Grange’s Alia Ornstein on RIF and Urban Farming

Interview I conducted for RIF with the Brooklyn Grange’s Alia Ornstein.

Growing Together

I’m wandering amidst a sea of hot peppers – Hungarian wax, serrano, golden cayenne – when Alia Ornstein waves me down from the opposite end of the farm, her tell-tale floppy farmer’s hat distinguishing her from the rest of the Brooklyn Grange staff and trainees. She’s just wrapped up a meeting with a Grange partner and can now spare a few minutes to speak with me before returning to the important work at hand – the beds that need tilling, the chickens that need feeding, the CSA shares that need bagging.

Alia enjoying lunch with the RIF participants. (Photo: Koray Ersin)

A former lawyer, she moves purposefully past the trellised cucumbers, a rake in her hand though I can just as easily picture a briefcase full of case notes and legal briefs. She shakes my hand and pulls a couple of chairs into the shade of the rooftop’s big generator…

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